The Bach and Handel Chorale ushered in the Christmas season this weekend at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Jim Thorpe, treating a standing-room-only crowd to classic and contemporary Christmas favorites. The sold out performance was the first of several Christmas concerts this year.

The chorale entered the sanctuary in candle-lit processional, singing the a cappella "Adeste Fidelis." Members wore their traditional black attire, made festive with green silk scarves and red bow ties.

As the chorale prepared to start the concert, founder and conductor Randall Douglas Perry addressed the crowd.

"We are delighted that you are here," he said, gesturing enthusiastically to the packed pews. "We're just ecstatic that there are so many people to share the Christmas season with us."

He noted that this year's concert would cover music spanning over several centuries, from classic Bach and Handel selections to a modern compilation of holiday tunes.

They then began a cheerful round of "And the Glory of the Lord," a selection from Handel's "Messiah," before transitioning into the Christmas Oratorio's "Jauchzet Frolocket" by Bach.

While Perry accompanied the chorale on piano for many of the pieces, the group also featured flutists Jennifer Mann and Camille Bernarr in "Sheep May Safely Graze." Soloist Angela Mosley was featured in the song "Morning Star." They ended the first half of their program with two carols, "Come Join the Angels Singing" and "Cold December Flies Away."

After a brief intermission, the group continued their Christmas performance with Oxford Carols, "Angel's Carol," and "O Holy Night," featuring soloist Leta Thompson.

Perry then turned to the crowd and invited them to sing along during five traditional Christmas carols, including "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," and "What Child is This." A mix of young and old alike raised their voices with the chorale, the notes blending and mingling in the acoustics of St. Mark's Church.

The chorale concluded their concert with a cheerful compilation of Christmas songs titled "The Joy of Christmas," featuring such popular favorites as "The First Noel," "Silent Night," and "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful."

As the chorale began its signature "Hallelujah Chorus," concertgoers in the crowded church stood as is tradition. They smiled, and many sang along as the performers offered their time-honored concert finale.

The chorale held a second concert on Sunday at t. John's UCC in Tamaqua.

The chorale will host its final two Christmas Concerts on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 4 p.m., St. John's Lutheran Church, 106 Main Street in Ringtown; and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m., Angela Triplex Theatre in Coaldale.

The group will offer its annual Easter concert on April 30 at St. Mark's; and will also hold a benefit concert on May 14.